Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) named Mitch Ballard senior director of creative on Feb. 19 for the company’s new office in Austin, Texas. He will report to Jody Williams, vp creative, and Mason Hunter, assistant vp creative, both in the company’s Nashville office.
“With a strong background in music and tech, native Texan Mitch Ballard is the perfect fit to head our new Austin office,” said Williams. “He is a proven leader who really understands the creative culture of Austin and the songwriter’s contribution to the fabric of Texas music. We look forward to Mitch’s contribution to BMI’s success as we embark on this new adventure.”
Sony/ATV Music Publishing announced a number of promotions and new hires to strengthen its business and legal affairs department on March 5. Nicole Giacco has been promoted to senior vp business and legal affairs, Ryan Raichilson has been promoted to director of business and legal affairs, and Melissa Yermes is joining the team as an associate director. All three will report to Peter Brodsky, Sony/ATV’s executive vp of business and legal affairs. Molly O’Neill has also been hired as a coordinator, who will report to senior vp Michael Abitbol and vp Dag Sandsmark, both of the business and legal affairs department.
European independent music agency PIAS announced March 6 that Vanessa Picken will be joining the team as head of digital for America, Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. Picken will report to Colin Daniels, the company’s managing director for America and Asia Pacific, while also continuing to oversee the U.K. and Australian business of Sydney-based digital agency Comes With Fries, which she founded and wholly owns.
“Vanessa has an impressive track record for constantly delivering successful digital campaigns for artists and labels through her agency, Comes With Fries,” said Daniels. “I’m ecstatic Vanessa has agreed to join us as we continue to broaden our American and Australian businesses and strengthen our commitment to the fast growing Asian market.”
“I’ve always wanted to challenge myself and keep evolving my business, so this growth with PIAS feels like a perfect next step, Picken added. “I’m thrilled to be joining Colin, Adrian and the team who are just as driven to innovate, transform and expand the digital music industry.”
Gibson Brands announced the hiring of Mark Agnesi on March 6 for the newly-created position director of brand experience. He will report to Gibson chief merchant officer Cesar Gueikian at the company’s Nashville headquarters.
“As we set the stage for the future, we need leaders who balance our iconic legacy with a creative lens on the future . . . and Mark is that guy,” said Gibson CEO James “JC” Curleigh of Agnesi’s hiring.
Kobalt’s recording company AWAL announced on March 7 that Chris Hardy has been hired head of operations for Canada. Based in the company’s new Toronto office, Hardy will act as Canadian liaison for AWAL’s global clients, as well as serve as point of contact for the North American A&R team.
“Canada is an incredibly important music market and it’s crucial that we build a team that is capable of delivering for the artists, managers and labels we work with,” said Ron Cerrito, AWAL’s president, North America. “Chris has deep experience and relationships in the Canadian market and industry at large, which is why we are thrilled to add him to the growing AWAL team.”
Maria Schneider has been appointed as artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. Schneider’s appointment, announced March 7, is expected to be a school-wide residency for one week in each of the next three semesters — spring 2019, fall 2019 and spring 2020.
“I am thrilled to welcome Maria Schneider back to our Frost family as artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra,” said Shelton G. Berg, dean of the Frost School of Music. This is truly a match made in music heaven. Not only is Maria a multi-Grammy winner, NEA Master and one of the most celebrated composers of our time, she is a trailblazing advocate for music industry rights and education. We look forward to the brilliance she will bring to our school and students.”
On March 7, BMG announced Michael Kachko’s promotion to senior vp catalog recordings. He will report to Peter Stack, executive vp global catalog recordings, after previously serving as vp catalog recordings in the U.S.
“Michael has been a valuable asset for BMG and our esteemed clients,” said Stack. “His respect for artists and their creative vision, coupled with his profound knowledge of their music has been instrumental in BMG’s growing success as one of the world’s leading catalog recordings operation.”
ONErpm has hired Charles Hendricks as director of partner relations, the company announced on March 7. Based in New York, he will be responsible for developing and executing social media, marketing and playlisting strategies for the company’s roster of artists and labels.
“Charles brings a unique mix of personal experience as an artist, established relationships with DSPs, and promotional know-how to ONErpm,” said Emmanuel Zunz, ONErpm founder and CEO. “This experience will enable him to brainstorm and secure even more valuable placements for our roster of artists and labels, expanding their profiles throughout the U.S. and the world.”
Janelle Monáe Leads The Revolution In Stirring ‘Turntables’ Video
YouTube “We are in the middle of a revolution right? What’s a revolution without a song and a song without a revolution.” That’s the question the Grammy-winning artist Janelle Monáe posed to Entertainment Weekly when describing her latest single, “Turntables.” The song was released on and flips between cleverly rapped lines about “liberation, elevation, education” and a harmonic…
“We are in the middle of a revolution right? What’s a revolution without a song and a song without a revolution.”
That’s the question the Grammy-winning artist Janelle Monáe posed to Entertainment Weekly when describing her latest single, “Turntables.” The song was released on and flips between cleverly rapped lines about “liberation, elevation, education” and a harmonic refrain with clear gospel influences. It’s Monáe’s take on a contemporary protest song, a call for a political sea change, in the vein of, say, Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” or Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.”
Courtesy of Atlantic RecordsAnd on Tuesday (September), Monáe released a moving music video — or, as she calls it, an emotion picture — that solidified that message. The visual opens and closes with the singer walking along the beach in a beige trench coat and military cap. At times, she can be seen singing into a retro microphone before an American flag; in others, she moves through staged breakfast scenes, with a family reading through newspaper headlines as they mouth her lyrics. The visual flashes through archival and contemporary footage depicting inspirational figures past and present: Where one scene shows the model and activist Jillian Mercado at a photo shoot, another depicts a conversation with lifelong activist Angela Davis.
What rings true without is a hopeful cry for change and for equality, and a recognition of those who have been leading that fight for decades. Monáe wrote “Turntables” for the new Amazon Studios documentary, All In: The Fight for Democracy, that shines a light on voter suppression, particularly through the lens of Stacey Abrams’s failed bid for the Georgia governorship. “Right now, I am focused on turning the election in our favor,” Monáe told Entertainment Weekly, “and I hope this song can inspire those who are on the ground doing the work.”
Joe Keery’s Reinvention, Mxmtoon’s Carly Rae Jepsen Collab, And More Songs We Love
Getty Images/April Blum The search for the ever-elusive “bop” is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new? Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminate by…
Getty Images/April Blum
The search for the ever-elusive “bop” is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new?
Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminate by genre and can include anything — it’s a snapshot of what’s on our minds and what sounds good. We’ll keep it fresh with the latest music, but expect a few oldies (but goodies) every once in a while, too. Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.
St. Vincent ft. Yoshiki: “New York”
St. Vincent, the intuitive musical goddess that she is, must have sensed our collective need for another quarantine ballad. Enter “New York [Feat. Yoshiki],” a classical arrangement of the standout single from 2017’s Masseduction. An added string section courtesy of Yoshiki, a Japanese multi-instrumentalist, beautifully complements the song’s original piano instrumentals. What more can I say? “New York isn’t New York / Without you, love” just hits different in the middle of a pandemic. —Sam Manzella
Djo: “Keep Your Head Up”
Last year, Joe Keery (of Stranger Things fame) released a glossy solo album under the moniker Djo. It was titled Twenty Twenty, and its sparkling arrangements ended up being quite far removed from the overall vibe of 2020 the year, but who could fault him for his optimism? Keery has also long been a contributing member of Chicago psych band Post Animal, but Djo is simply Joe — and latest “Keep Your Head Up” feels like several Joes ripping open a vortex in the funk-time continuum. This is a groove, peppered with buzzy synths and icy falsetto and an honest-to-god sax part. It’s akin to Todd Terje doing Tame Impala, a lightheaded cocktail rush that feels both clubby and bedroom ambitious. Positively galactic. —Patrick Hosken
Mxmtoon ft. Carly Rae Jepsen: “OK On Your Own”
When Mxmtoon’s Maia said she recorded “OK On Your Own” for the girls and the gays, she wasn’t kidding. The mellow bedroom-pop bop soundtracks a journey of self-reflection after a breakup, complete with the soft ukulele instrumentals that put the 19-year-old singer-songwriter on the map. Is it revelatory? No, but with pop icon Carly Rae Jepsen lending her sugary-sweet vocals to the second verse, it doesn’t have to be. Now I’m just waiting for “Party for Two.” —Sam Manzella
Video Age: “Aerostar”
Pleasure Line, the third album from emerging indie pop quartet Video Age, delivers perfectly escapist ’80s new wave vibes for when you need to get outta 2020 for just a moment. “Aerostar” is its punchy center, a hip-twisting, shoulder-shuffling groove that delivers quirky robot dance commands (“Slide to the left, now! Shimmy to the right!”) over hoppin’ funk synths and a kickin’ drum machine. It all harkens to a simpler time, one where dance floors were actually a real thing. Oh, the ’80s! —Terron Moore
Ruel: “As Long As You Care”
About a year ago, Australian middle-part heartthrob Ruel told MTV News that for him, “songwriting is exaggerating to an extent.” On his latest, the technicolor, soulful “As Long As You Care,” his exaggeration is so seamless, you’d be forgiven for believing the 17-year-old is actually a time traveler. The neo-soul groove he rides propels everything upward, even as the sound cheekily looks backward. “As Long As You Care” has one amazing hook, coupled with sonic candy that makes his upcoming third EP, Bright Lights, Red Eyes (out October 23) one to watch. —Patrick Hosken
Alycia Bella ft. Boogie: “Cue the Sun”
Something magical happens two-and-a-half minutes into “Cue the Sun,” the exploratory new collab between striking R&B voice Alycia Bella and rapper Boogie. After piping in the aural equivalent of stage smoke via jazzy piano and gorgeous vocalizations — “It feel like being lost in the right direction” — Bella’s song enters a more sparkly realm for Boogie’s recitations. By the end, you’re lighter, like your mind’s been cleared of all the cobwebs. Cue the sun. —Patrick Hosken
Carly Rae Jepsen
Who Are You Most Excited to See Perform at the 2020 ACM Awards? Vote!
The 55th Academy of Country Music Awards will welcome back Taylor Swift and present a new collaboration from the evening’s host Keith Urban and P!nk on Wednesday, Sept. 16. But which one of the highly anticipated performances are you counting down the hours to? Nine-time ACM Award winner Swift, whose latest studio album Folklore has topped the Billboard 200 for six…
The 55th Academy of Country Music Awards will welcome back Taylor Swift and present a new collaboration from the evening’s host Keith Urban and P!nk on Wednesday, Sept. 16. But which one of the highly anticipated performances are you counting down the hours to?
Nine-time ACM Award winner Swift, whose latest studio album Folklore has topped the Billboard 200 for six weeks, will come back for the first time in seven years to perform the country-leaning fan-favorite track “Betty.” Meanwhile, 15-time ACM Award winner Urban and Pink will come together for the world television premiere of their brand new collaboration “One Too Many,” which is from the country star’s forthcoming album, The Speed of Now, Part 1.
Billboard broke the news Monday (Sept. 14) that all five nominees for entertainer of the year — Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett — will take the stage to perform a medley of their greatest hits. Additionally, ACM’s freshly crowned new male and female artist of the year winners Riley Green and Tenille Townes, respectively, will also perform.
For the first time in the awards show’s history, the ACMs will be broadcast live from Nashville, with socially distanced performances from the Grand Ole Opry House, the historic Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe.
The 55th ACM Awards will air live Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m. ET (delayed for the West Coast) on CBS and CBS All Access. (The event is produced by dick clark productions, which shares a parent company with Billboard.)
So which of the performances can’t you wait to see? Vote below!